A rich legacy of self-determination and commitment to educational excellence is an integral part of the history of self-empowerment among people of African ancestry in the United States.
This website exists to document and share that legacy as expressed through the work of founders of independent, private, pre-collegiate, educational institutions founded and financed by free Africans and later African Americans in the United States. This website is a work in progress. It is by no means exhaustive. We have posted and researched as much information as possible within our current resources. If you know of scholarly works, or even news articles related to this topic, please do share. We would be happy to post. If you would like to contribute resources of time or funding, please let us know.
Three Hundred Year Legacy
An essential part of this record is the 300-year legacy of associations supporting Black independent schools—organizations with similar missions founded over the centuries by African American educational entrepreneurs, sometimes in collaboration with the communities they serve, Such organizations have designed, established, operated, and sustained independent educational options for people of African ancestry. (See history dating back to 1704.)
In so doing, they have provided access, choice, and a diversity of high-quality educational options over the centuries. In its most recent iterations, it has been an organization of pre-school, elementary, and secondary schools in the private sector, who have a special interest in ensuring that all children have access to the highest-quality educational options.
We know of only two organizations carrying on this rich legacy today: Directors in Support of Children and Families, a successor to the Association of Historically Black Independent Schools (AHBIS), which represents over 25 New York City schools; and the Council on Independent Education, which has a national representation. Please contact Dr. Gail Foster with any information on other organizations not documented on this website. Below is the mission statement from the most recent organization operating under the name of AHBIS.
Mission: We work collaboratively to support the thriving of our schools through advocacy in the local, national, and international arenas.
Activities: We do this through workshops, conferences, advocacy, and networking. We engage in such activities toward the aim of increasing the number of excellent educational options available to American schoolchildren, and ensuring the flow of resources to current and future school founders of African ancestry. In addition to being teachers, we are scholars and griots—collecting data, documenting, researching, and contributing to the literature on both history and best practices in education.
Membership is open to:
Founders of black-owned independent schools
Leadership of Historically Black Independent Schools
African American educators who are founders of nurseries and preschools
African American education and history scholars